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Tag Archives: Virginia Newspaper Project
Published every Friday between 1891 and 1913, the Virginia Citizen (Check digitized issues at Chronicling America.) was the first paper to serve Lancaster County, part of the Northern Neck region of Tidewater Virginia. The paper’s office in Irvington—located on an inlet from the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay—was just across the street from a landing for the Rappahannock River Line, one of several steamer services linking the region’s many villages and transporting farm produce and seafood between eastern Virginia and processing plants in Baltimore. From 1897 until 1913, the newspaper proudly stated its mission: “A Weekly Journal Devoted to the interests of Lancaster County in particular, the Northern Neck and Rappahannock Valley in general, and the world at large.” By the early 1900s, circulation totaled 1,827, a heady number considering that Irvington had but 750 residents and the county 8,949. In hard times, though, the editor was not above accepting vegetables or a load of hay—almost anything other than soft-shell crabs, strawberries, or peas—in lieu of cash.
Editor since 1892, W. McDonald Lee brought considerable prestige to the paper. Lee had served as county Commissioner of Revenue and president of the Virginia Press Association in the late 1890s and during the early 1900s served as a commissioner for Virginia fisheries and president of the National Association of Fisheries Commissioners. He was particularly interested in promoting the county’s oyster (“the succulent bivalve”) industry and the welfare of “the toiling masses of Virginia oystermen.”
Lee also brought a strong, sometimes sensational, editorial fervor to the Virginia Citizen—favoring the Democratic Party, the total abstinence of alcohol, and evangelical Christianity. His mastheads mirrored these positions. An 1897 banner-line declared that the paper was “Conservative in All Things, Neutral in Nothing.” He also vigorously prodded the paper’s readers never to be “mealy-mouthed or … read more »
The Tennessee State Library and Archives donated to the Virginia Newspaper Project some rare finds never held by the Library of Virginia until now. One of the titles, of special historical import, is called Anti-Liquor. As the name implies, Anti-Liquor was just that: a monthly newspaper committed to the prohibition of alcohol. Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the paper was “issued for the sole purpose of educating the people upon the evils of the drink habit, and especially to turn light upon the question of Legal Prohibition.”
According to Lester Cappon’s essential work, Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, a Lynchburg temperance monthly, the Truth, was absorbed by Anti-Liquor in 1891. Moffet continued editing the paper after the merger until he was assassinated in Danville on November 11, 1892. The history of the Reverend Moffet’s church explained, “John R. Moffett died a martyr’s death at the hand of an assassin’s bullet for the cause of temperance.” Anti-Liquor ceased publication shortly after his death.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives also gave the Library a May, 15, 1869 issue of The Collegian published by Washington College, what is today Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Published semi-monthly by literary societies of the college, The Collegian focused on various aspects of academia and student news. The entire front page of this particular issue is taken up by one article titled, “Claims of the German Language” proposing the utility of learning German, as opposed to French. “Thus the study of German is not only interesting in itself and affords vigorous intellectual exercise,” the article concluded, “but … read more »
After the passage of 80 years, let’s go ahead and submit that publisher and editor E. E. Keister had a worthwhile idea-the consolidation of his four Northern Virginian newspapers in 1932 to form (why don’t we call it…) the Northern Virginia Daily whose ownership remained in the Keister family all of those 80 years until last February. Presumably the new owners, Ogden Newspapers of West Virginia, will maintain a self image that boasts at the bottom of their website (nvdaily.com), “Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!”.
The Library of Virginia microfilm holding of the Northern Virginia Daily is strong, in fact almost uninterrupted since its first issue. Our interest in this blog entry is the happy announcement of a major addition to a rather weak holding, the Project catalog of those four newspapers dissolved back in 1932: The Strasburg News, Woodstock Times & Edinburg Sentinel of the Shenandoah Valley, the Chief Justice of Marshall in Fauquier County, and Warren County’s Front Royal Record. Some 50 volumes of these papers were loaned and transported to the LVA last month from the basement of the Northern Virginia Daily’s Strasburg office with the permission (and assistance, for which I was grateful on a hot July day) of the paper’s editor, Michael Gochenour. Among those volumes were two discoveries not at all anticipated, one of them a newspaper without archive in any institution in Virginia (or elsewhere)-the Middletown Weekly (Clarke County, north of Strasburg) published between 1912 and 1916 (?). I’ve borrowed that question mark from the Project’s go-to reference of 1936, Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, compiled by the gray eminence of Virginia newspaper cataloging, Dr. Lester Cappon of UVA. His description includes those three words we enjoy retiring, “no copy known”. We now know 24 copies, about six … read more »
In 1902 Louisiana became the first to pass a statewide statute requiring mandatory segregation of streetcars, followed by Mississippi in 1904. That same year, Virginia authorized, but did not require, segregated streetcars in all of its cities, leaving it up to companies to decide whether or not they would segregate their services. On April 17, 1904, the Times Dispatch printed the article “Separate the Races” on page seventeen of its Sunday edition, in which the Virginia Passenger and Power Company outlined a new set of rules. The Company surely hoped its new policy to enforce racial segregation on its cars would go unnoticed by Richmond’s populace. Instead, the company’s new regulations led to a citywide boycott of its services, and ultimately to its financial ruin.
“This company has determined to avail itself of the authority given by a recent state law to separate white and colored passengers,” read its statement in the Times Dispatch, “and to set apart and designate in each car certain portions of the car or certain seats for white passengers and certain other portions or certain seats for colored passengers. . .The conductors have the right to require passengers to change their seats as often as may be necessary for the comfort and convenience of the passengers and satisfactory separation of the races.” White riders were to sit in the front of cars, while black riders were to sit in the back, but because there were no permanent partitions on the cars, conductors had the authority to assign seats as the ebb and flow of black and white riders shifted. This gave conductors the power to play a “bizarre game of musical chairs with passengers.” The company’s new regulations also gave conductors the authority to arrest or forcibly remove anyone who did not comply with … read more »
Television and copy advertisements for prescription drugs are a common sight these days. But the obsession with finding the latest and greatest cure-all is nothing new. At the turn of the twentieth century, before the discovery of antibiotics and other wonder drugs, consumers were desperate to find palliatives for problems ranging from the common cold to cancer. The search for the perfect panacea combined with the huge number of newspaper readers made newspapers the primary medium for shrewd concoction makers to hock their potions. The medicinal advertisements below are from the Alexandria Gazette, the Daily Times (Richmond, Va.) and the Free Lance (Fredericksburg, Va.) of 1899-1911 and represent companies which were successful thanks, in part, to convincing and pervasive newspaper advertising campaigns. All images are from Chronicling America, a digital repository of historic newspapers. Original and microfilm copies of these papers can also be found in the collections of the Library of Virginia.
Ely’s Cream Balm, manufactured by the Ely brothers of Owego, NY, was a popular remedy for catarrh, “an Inflammation of the mucus membranes in one of the airways or cavities in the body.” The Ely Brothers started producing Ely’s Cream Balm, a compound similar to today’s Vicks VapoRub, in Owego in the early 1860′s. They moved the company to New York City in the early 1890′s and it was later sold to Wyeth in the mid 1930′s. In this ad from January 1, 1910 in the Alexandria Gazette, an illustrated head appears with congestion-causing ailments written all over it. In bold, capital letters, the ominous words CATARRH and HEY FEVER appear at the top and bottom of the afflicted head. It calls itself a “reliable remedy” that “cleanses, soothes, heals and protects the diseased membrane resulting from Catarrh.” In the days when quackery … read more »
The ascension of Mitt Romney, though drawn out, is boring by comparison to the Republican Convention of 1912. The June 21, 1912 issue of the The Times Dispatch devoted nearly the entire front page to the activities of the major parties in preparing for the November election. The headline declares “Beat to Frazzle, Roosevelt May Quit Republican Party.” The previous evening in Chicago, former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the convention saying, “If the people want a progressive party, I’ll be in it,” and “I shall have to see if there is a popular demonstration for me to run.” There were challenges to the credentials of delegates for Taft and Roosevelt, each seeking to advance their own candidate’s interests.
Two articles describe the chaos of the day’s events at the Republican Convention. One article describes that the official business at the meeting for the previous day lasting 5 minutes.… read more »
The setting for John Fox Jr.’s 1908 novel Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Big Stone Gap in Wise County is situated along the Powell River in a remote and rugged valley of the far southwestern region of Virginia. In the 1880s, the town (once known as Mineral City) had three farms, two small country stores, and a handful of mills. But the laying of several railroad lines into the Gap in the early 1890s–for the transport of coal and timber between Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee–transformed the isolated hamlet into a bustling gateway of industrial activity. As the region grew, eastern speculators promoted movement to and investment in the area.
In 1890, Colonel Charles E. Sears, first president of the Improvement Company, took over the Commercial Club and shortly thereafter established The Big Stone Post, a weekly newspaper. Colonel Sears unabashedly pitched the considerable advantages of Big Stone Gap, sending out prospectuses and placing advertisements in metropolitan newspapers throughout the East. One such prospectus, appearing in 1890 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in New York City, described the Gap as a “wild and picturesque defile in Big Stone Mountain, an elongated spur forming a part of the Cumberland range of mountains just to the eastward of the Kentucky State Line.” The article also boasted of the town’s electric light plant, street railway, and waterworks.
In the first issue of The Big Stone Post, published on August 15, 1890, Sears explained that his purpose was “to advertise the material resources of the Appalachian district; [and] to show to the rest of the country that Big Stone Gap possesses paramount advantage over all other locations as a manufacturing and distributing point.” The same issue reported on railroads, coke plants, and other internal improvements … read more »
An earlier posting promised some additional remarks about a pair of recent arrivals to the LVA/VNP microfilm collection: the Metro Virginia News and the Public Pamphlet of Leesburg, Virginia. Rather than just a masthead, as earlier, let’s take a look at a complete front-page for each of these Northern Virginian papers. First the weekly Metro Virginia News:
This copy of July, 1974 is an example of the paper at its best. It provides to readers detailed coverage of a local governing decision relating to an issue of increasing concern and debate: managing economic growth. The goal was to provide an alternative to the more established Loudoun Times-Mirror, a paper without competition since the mid 1950’s, and to the advantage of interested readers, they often succeeded. But, as journalist A. J. Leibling reminds, “The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.” The enterprise was ill-timed. It coincided with a recession.
The Metro Virginia News published for just over two years, November of 1972 until December 1974, reaching a circulation of about 4000, some 8000 shy of the Times-Mirror. A financial sinkhole, not profit, beckoned. The newspaper, as well as ownership of the more solidly grounded Fauquier Democrat to the county south, was sold to Arthur Arundel, publisher of, pause, the Times-Mirror. The Democrat continued while the Metro Virginia News, to no one’s surprise, was shuttered.
But to return to the paper’s origin – an experienced editor, a young and extremely capable staff cannot simply will itself into being. Who provided the catalyst of money?
Again Leibling, a remark in greater circulation than of previous: “Freedom of the Press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Helmi Carr, unhappy with her representation in the local … read more »